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Waitlisted Parents Ask: ‘Where Else Can I Send My Child to School?’

For the last nine months, I have interacted with thousands of families who applied to enroll their children at our schools. Searching for the right elementary school is an overwhelming process, and I have noticed a sense of relief among the parents who attend my school tours. Seeing Success Academy’s warm and inviting school community, teachers committed to excellence, and students engaged in learning — puts parents at ease and allows them to imagine something really wonderful for their children’s academic future.

During daily conversations with these parents, I always get questions about the admissions lottery and the odds of winning a seat. These are difficult conversations to have. Success Academy is seen as a ticket to opportunity, a way to escape the city’s failing district schools and give children a chance to achieve their highest potential. But we simply do not have enough seats to accommodate all the children who apply.

Success Academy is seen as a ticket to opportunity, a way to escape the city’s failing district schools and give children a chance to achieve their highest potential.

In April, a random lottery was held for the 2,300 open seats in our schools. With 22,000 applications, the majority of families ended up on a wait list. I tell the families how important it is to remain hopeful and informed in case their child’s number is called, but I have to be honest and let parents who have received an “unlikely” status on the wait list know that the odds are against them. Some of them struggle to accept the outcome; one parent showed up uninvited at a school tour for admitted families. It is heartbreaking, but I have to help these families confront the reality of their situation: It is unlikely they will get off the wait list. They need to seriously consider other school options.

Parents tell me that the failing school down the street is not an option. “Where else can I send my child to school?” they want to know. We try to help these families find other options. Unfortunately, we are not always successful, and sometimes all I can say at the end of a conversation is, “Good luck.”

In my role, I have found that all parents want the best possible education for their child and will climb mountains to get it. Luck should not determine whether a child should have access to a great education. Parents need more great options so every child can learn and have access to opportunity.

Written by Abby Woodard July 2, 2015


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